The Broward County Mental Health Court, which involves faculty from NSU’s Center for Psychological Services, Shepard Broad Law Center and Health Professions Division, is one of three finalists for the HiiL Innovating Justice Award. The HiiL Innovating Justice Awards are part of the Innovating Justice Hub – a global network that maps, connects, teaches, and strengthens justice innovation. The winner will be announced on December 11, 2013.
The Broward County Mental Health Court, established 16 years ago, is the first of its kind in the United States. In nearly two decades in operation, this Court, under the leadership of Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren, provided compassionate, therapeutic justice to an estimated 16,000 people with mental illness who had been arrested. This specialized therapeutic court has swiftly identified individuals with serious mental illness in need of appropriate mental health treatment and support, diverting them out of the jail and into community-based treatment.
Research demonstrates that the approach is smart justice that saves taxpayer dollars, reduces recidivism and promotes public safety while respecting the dignity and human rights of the offenders. The court has been widely copied by at least 250 cities across the United States and dozens more are in the works. Congress embraced this concept as a national model, passing legislation in 2000 to expand diversionary criminal justice strategies.